Do It On the Basis of Love

“. . . I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love.” Philemon 9 NIV

Have you ever been asked to do something that the world might call crazy or naïve? Many times as believers we are called to do just that.

The apostle Paul’s words of appeal above come from a letter he wrote to his dear friend and fellow worker Philemon. Philemon’s slave Onesimus had apparently stolen from him or wronged him in some way and then run away. After that, Onesimus met Paul and became a Christian and was then ready to return to Philemon and make things right between them.

This is where Paul came in. He acted as an agent of reconciliation, appealing to Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as if he were welcoming Paul himself (read the short book of Philemon for the entire beautiful story told in just twenty-five verses.)

In other words, Paul said, if you love me, forgive and welcome him. More than that, the implication here is also an appeal to act out of love for Christ—to extend the love that Christ himself would extend.

I wonder if there are any situations in our lives right now where the Lord might be saying, “I appeal to you on the basis of love . . .” Has someone wronged us or someone we love? Or maybe a person noted for bad or even criminal behavior has recently come to know Christ. Many times our first reaction is to say, “Yeah, sure.”

But what would the Lord have us do? I think his message to us would be the same as the one Paul sent to Philemon so many years ago—if you love me, forgive and welcome him.

How can we do any less than offer forgiveness when the Lord has extended unconditional love and forgiveness to each of us? Let’s do what he wants us to do. And let’s do it on the basis of love.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 NIV

*Who will you forgive on the basis of love today?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by qthomasbower, Creative Commons License

An Unwanted Twist in Motives When Pride Sneaks In

It can come out of nowhere—or be so subtle I don’t even notice it at first. A twist in motives.

Pride slips in, unwanted yet there. My heart and thoughts can be in the right place as I start an activity—writing, singing, serving in ministry, helping someone, or even in online interactions. And then bam—a desire to impress pops up.  Whether ever so slightly or a glaring example, my motives take a twist. I hate it when it happens.

I’m not alone, though. A twist in motives can sneak up on any of us at any time, especially when we’re doing something we do rather well. It’s natural—and okay—to feel good about a job well done. The problem occurs when we start to puff up and get prideful, secretly wondering if we’ve impressed certain people. It’s crazy how we get prideful over the talents and abilities God alone has given us, isn’t it?

Thankfully the Lord has made me acutely aware of my prideful tendencies. Most of the time I immediately recognize a prideful thought and can go to battle against Satan as he tries to snare me in his trap. I go to prayer, confessing my twist in motives and ask the Lord to help me want “to bless and not impress.” (That’s a phrase I keep handy at all times—a phrase I strive to live by.)

Do any of you have a similar struggle with pride trying to weasel its way into your heart? I think the apostle Paul may have. Whether he battled pride or a different problem, he told the believers in Rome, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 7:21)

Let’s continually be on guard against the enemy’s attempts to get us to slip into pride, his plans to corrupt our initial desire to serve or bless. Let’s be on the lookout for a twist in motives.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 KJV

*How can you be more alert to pride sneaking in?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by .Bala, Creative Commons License

A Tactic of the Enemy: An Opportune Time

“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13 NIV

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, was well-acquainted with temptation during his days here on earth. Scripture tells us that immediately after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit sent him into the desert where he was tempted by Satan for forty days (Mark 1:9-13.)

The gospels of Matthew and Luke show how the devil tried different tactics to cause the perfect Son of God to stumble and sin, but the enemy had no success. Jesus stood strong, using the Word of God as a shield and weapon against the devil’s schemes.

Satan lost the battle in the desert. As the above verse in Luke points out, he left Jesus—at least for the moment. He had plans though. Plans to attack again at an opportune time. And he did.

One of those times happened just after Jesus told his disciples he would suffer and be killed and then rise again on the third day (Mark 8:31-33.) When Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for speaking of such an unthinkable thing, Jesus recognized this as another temptation—another of the enemy’s attempts to cause him to stumble.

Satan must have thought Jesus would be more vulnerable as the time drew nearer for him to face death. Definitely, an opportune time to attack again. Combine that with the appeal of one of Jesus’ close friends, and he had the perfect opportunity indeed. But Jesus stood strong once again. “‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said.’” (Mark 8:33) He was ready to resist. Ready for Satan’s attacks during opportune moments.

Are we ready to resist when the enemy comes at us during times when we’re vulnerable or caught unaware?

What do our opportune times look like? Our opportune moments could come when we’re exhausted or sick or worried. They might happen when we experience either failure or success or when we’re on the cusp of a new venture or ministry (like Jesus’ temptation in the desert.) We’re especially vulnerable when we’ve neglected time in the Word or in prayer—when we’ve allowed ourselves to grow distant from Jesus or have become complacent in our spiritual lives.

Let’s be alert to Satan’s tactics. He will wait for an opportune time, and then he’ll be there, ready to tempt us. Will we be ready to resist?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

*What can you do to be ready for Satan’s attacks?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamani, Creative Commons License

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Spiritual Battles

*Fyi, I’ll be taking a blogging break the rest of the month. See you back here in early August!

As believers, we have an enemy and his name is Satan (also known as the devil). In Scripture we first see him in the Garden of Eden (appearing as a serpent) where he deceives Adam and Eve and convinces them to sin—to go against God’s instructions (Genesis 3.) And he has been attempting to deceive and tempt all humanity ever since. Even Jesus was not exempt from his attacks (Matthew 4:1-11.)

Since we need the very power of God to take our stand against Satan, this month’s installment of my blog series (featuring sentence prayers that invite God’s power) will arm you with prayers for spiritual battles.  

Satan is indeed a formidable foe but our God is greater. In fact, God proved that and won the ultimate victory when Jesus paid for all our sins on the cross and then was raised to life again. For now, though, we wait for Jesus’ second coming when he will put an end to Satan and his reign on the earth once and for all.

May the following sentence prayers help equip you for battles with the enemy. Be strengthened and blessed as you pray, my friends!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Spiritual Battles

  1. Lord, when the enemy comes against me, surround me with your peace and your protection like the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. (Psalm 125:2; John 17:15)
  2. Father, remind me to daily put on the armor of God—the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit which is your Word—so that I can take my stand against the evil one. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
  3. Lord, help me be alert to Satan and his schemes and to guard myself against them. (Ephesians 6:11-12; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Corinthians 16:13)
  4. Lord, throw my enemy Satan and his demonic cohorts into confusion as they attack, trying to steal, kill, and destroy the good you are doing in and through my life. (Exodus 14:14; Joshua 10:10; John 10:10)
  5. Father, help me to resist Satan’s attacks with all the power you make available to me as your child. (James 4:7; Ephesians 1:18-20; 6:13)
  6. Lord, as I resist the attacks of the evil one, remind me to pray by the power of your Holy Spirit on every occasion, knowing that the power to gain victory lies in you. (Ephesians 6:18; Romans 8:26-27)
  7. Father, when I am in a spiritual battle, impress on fellow believers the need to hold me up in prayer. (John 16:13; Romans 15:30; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 1:19; James 5:16)

I pray that having these prayers at the ready will strengthen and comfort you as you face spiritual battles. And remember, Jesus is interceding for you too! (Romans 8:34)

“‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.’” John 17:15 NIV

*Which of these prayers do you most need to pray today?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out August 1st. One lucky subscriber will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) p.s. If you sign up after 7-26, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

One Way to Pray Against Enemy Forces

The Lord threw [the enemy forces] into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely . . .” Joshua 10:10 NIV

We will all face enemies in our lives—and it’s not usually a one and done affair. The average person or group or nation will face multiple battles over the course of time. It’s just to be expected. We are not in heaven yet, and until Jesus comes again and gains the final victory over Satan, conflict and sin will continue to be part of our lives.

The enemy forces that come against us will take many forms. As a nation, we may face foreign and military battles from without and political battles and bigotry from within. As individuals, we will undoubtedly face emotional and spiritual battles as well as health-related, financial, and interpersonal ones. These are just a few broad examples. Others have probably already come to mind.

As believers in Christ, we know that prayer is one of the most powerful weapons we have at our disposal. Through prayer we can ask God to wield his almighty power against our enemies on our behalf. In fact, prayer is listed as the final component of battle readiness as laid out by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6.

One specific way we can pray when enemy forces come against us is to ask the Lord to throw them into confusion. In the scripture featured at the beginning of this post, we see that God did this very thing for Joshua and the Israelites. As a result, they were able to defeat their enemy. Will not God do the same for us today as we call on him for help?

Let’s do it—let’s ask God to throw our enemies into confusion. Let’s watch him act in our behalf. Let’s watch our mighty God defeat our enemies.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 NIV

*What enemy is coming against you today? Will you call on God?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out this week. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) p.s. It is too late to get in on this issue’s giveaway, but if you subscribe, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by D.Munoz-Santos, Creative Commons License